Several evenings this week I have been at community meetings with DUP councillors from the Castle area. Then this morning I was in our constituency office at Ballysillan to catch up on some paperwork. The two DUP councillors from the Oldpark area were there as well, meeting a some residents from Carr's Glen Park about a number of issues. That was on top of the normal round of council meetings, DPP meetings and partnership board meetings. Politics is not a 9 to 5 job and it is not a five days a week job either. It requires real commitment and long hours and a six day week are not unusual.
I was disappointed therefore by an article in the Belfast Telegraph tonight in which the 'churches correspondent' Alf McCreary painted a thoroughly disparaging picture of Belfast councillors. He ended the article by describing them as 'mostly ridiculous' and saying that 'Belfast people deserve better'.
Yes, I am sure we could all do better and that includes journalists as well as politicians but I think his comments were unfair and unfounded. Our politicians are very much a reflection of the people and I suppose that is how it should be. We live in a deeply divided society and it is not surprising that our societal differences are played out from time to time in the council chamber, just as they are played out in other spheres.
There are good councillors as well as poor councillors and some are mediocre but to describe them as 'mostly ridiculous' is a sweeping condemnation and is simply untrue. I expected better from a churches correspondent'.
Alf McCreary's article was developed around a debate about an Irish language sign but it was clear that he had not understood or else had chosen to ignore the context of the debate, for he did not mention it at all. Earlier in the meeting all parties had agreed an aproach to contended cultural issues, such as the Irish language, but later in the meeting three parties, the two nationalist parties and Alliance, decided to ignore that decision in relation to the Irish language signage.
The article was patronising and served to demonstrate that all of us, including Alf McCreary, have our 'off days'.